Aaron Nee, a 16-year-old high school student from Honolulu, was named the grand prize winner of Alaska Airlines’ Spirit of the Islands Paint the Plane contest on Jan. 10, earning a prize of $5,000 in scholarships and a vacation for four to any destination in the carrier’s network.
“We’re thrilled with Aaron’s beautiful design depicting some of the most iconic features of the Aloha State and look forward to sharing his plane across our route network,” Mark Bocchi, Alaska Airlines' managing director of sales and community marketing, said in a statement. “We were awestruck by the creativity of all the designs that were submitted.”
A decorated member of his school’s Air Force ROTC program, Nee submitted a design featuring a scene depicting the first Polynesian voyaging canoe that discovered the Hawaiian Islands, along with the Hawaiian island chain itself and a yellow hibiscus, the state flower.
According to Alaska officials, Nee plans to use the award money for college and travel to New York with his prize vacation to visit relatives and hopefully “see snow for the first time.”
Roughly 2,700 Hawaii kindergarten through 12th grade students submitted contest entries that were judged by a panel of local artists, musicians and community leaders, including Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney. More than 7,000 Hawaii residents cast online votes for the top three designs as selected by the judging panel.
Nee’s submission received 4,013 votes and will be painted on a Boeing 737 later this year, unveiled in a ceremony at the Honolulu Airport and then used throughout the carrier’s service network.
Alaska also awarded trips for four to any of the carrier’s destinations and $1,000 scholarships to the contest’s second and third place finishers and handed out $1,000 scholarships to 10 honorable mention recipients.
For a look at the second and third place designs, and the 10 honorable mentions, visit www.painttheplanehawaii.com